October 7, 2014
Peace Now Founder’s Firm Builds Over ‘Green Line’ in Jerusalem
Peace Now co-founder slams construction over the ‘Green Line’ but his company invests in building up the same areas in Jerusalem.
The Jewish Press
Hana Levi Julian
A view of Jerusalem from Givat HaMatos, a mostly empty section of land in southern Jerusalem. Peace Now wants this part of Jerusalem handed over to a “Palestinian State”. Israel plans to use it to build housing for Jews and Arabs. Photo Credit: Flash90
Peace Now co-founder Tzali Reshef may passionately defend his organization’s position against construction in areas outside the 1949 Armistice Line (“Green Line”) — but in his other life Reshef’s company invests in the lucrative building trade to be found in those exact same areas in Jerusalem.
The disparity emerged last week following Reshef’s debate on Israel’s Channel 2 television with Dani Dayan, entrepreneur and former chairman of the Judea and Samaria Council of Jewish Communities (Yesha Council). Reshef, 61, served as a Labor MK from August 2002 to February 2003. Today he is a successful businessman who heads Arledan Investments, Ltd and its subsidiary, Keter Publishing House.
The issue under discussion between the two men was the construction of a new neighborhood – Givat HaMatos — in southern Jerusalem, near Gilo and on the “other side” of the 1949 Armistice Line.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has slammed what he called a “deliberate” attempt by the radical leftist Peace Now movement to sabotage his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday. The group deliberately publicly railed about a published tender notifying Israelis of the final approval for construction of housing in the Givat HaMatos neighborhood, a years-old project that had already won its initial approval in 2011.
The group’s “leak” was timed to coincide with Netanyahu’s meeting at the White House, where it did indeed create a firestorm of outrage, as Peace Now intended. White House press secretary Josh Earnest condemned the project, saying it would “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki issued a similar condemnation.
Notably, “The truth is that there is no private Palestinian land in this plan,” Peace Now admits on its website. “The lands included in the plan are state lands and tenders to these plans will be published by the state, similarly to the case in Har Homa, Gilo, Ramot and other neighborhoods,” according to the site. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced that in Givat HaMatos, plans include construction of housing for Arab residents as well.
As co-founder of the radical leftist movement, Reshef presents himself to the Israeli public as someone passionately opposed to building new Jewish neighborhoods or communities – or any construction in those that exist, including expansion – in areas claimed by the Palestinian Authority for its hoped-for state. Among those territories are areas that were forcibly occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967 and won by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War (Judea, Samaria, Jordan Valley, and about half of Jerusalem.)
Last week, Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer openly blamed Israel’s prime minister for U.S. President Barack Obama’s outrage at the construction of new Israeli homes in the neighborhood, saying “He is responsible for authorizing building in sensitive areas like Givat HaMatos.”
Likewise, during last week’s televised debate with Dani Dayan, Reshef said bluntly that construction in “East Jerusalem” sabotages peace, is an anti-patriotic act, and called it an “abomination.”
Jewish Press.com tried several times to contact Reshef by phone to request elaboration on those remarks, but failed to reach him.
“Fine. That’s his opinion and he is entitled to it,” commented Dayan in an exclusive interview with JewishPress.com on Monday evening. “But I was shocked to discover the day after our debate that Reshef’s company, “Arledan,” actually initiated construction projects in Gilo and French Hill – two major neighborhoods located over the ‘Green Line.’ ”
In fact, Arledan’s website is quite clear that the firm is proud of its accomplishments, and apparently rightfully so.
Israel’s plan to forcibly resettle Negev Bedouins prompts global protests
‘Day of rage’ over demolition of ‘unrecognised’ villages in Bedouins’ ancestral lands turns violent, with 40 arrests made
Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
December 1, 2013
Several thousand people worldwide have taken part in protests at the Israeli government’s plans to forcibly remove Bedouin Arabs from their villages in the Negev desert.
In Israeli towns and cities mounted police used teargas, stun grenades and water cannon against demonstrators, in what the Association of Civil Rights in Israel described as a “disproportionate” response to stone-throwing. More than 40 people were arrested at protests across the country, and 15 police officers were injured.
In what was billed as an international “day of rage”, demonstrations were also held in London, Berlin, Rome, Istanbul, Cairo and in the United States.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, criticised the protests. “We will not tolerate such disturbances,” he said in a statement. “Attempts by a loud and violent minority to deny a better future to a large and broad population are grave. We will continue to advance the law for a better future for all residents of the Negev,” he said.
Under the Prawer Plan, which is expected to pass into Israeli law by the end of the year, 35 “unrecognised” Bedouin villages will be demolished and between 40,000 and 70,000 people removed to government-designated towns. Israel says the proposal will bring benefits such as permanent housing and public services, but the majority of Bedouin says they do not want to give up their ancestral lands and way of life.
“We have been living here since before the creation of the state of Israel,” Maqbul Saraya, 70, told Al Jazeera. “We feel that democracy and justice in Israel do not apply to us.”
More than 50 public figures in the UK criticised the plan in a letter published in the Guardian, saying it would “mean the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation”.
The “unrecognised” villages in the Negev lack running water, electricity, landline telephones, roads, high schools and health clinics. The Bedouin – who are Israeli citizens – comprise about 30% of the Negev’s population but their villages take up only 2.5% of the land. Before the state of Israel was created in 1948 they roamed widely across the desert; now, two-thirds of the region has been designated as military training grounds and firing ranges.
Under the Prawer Plan, the residents of “unrecognised” villages will be moved into seven overcrowded and impoverished towns. Meanwhile, new Jewish settlements are planned for the region.
In response to the demonstrations, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “We are fighting over the national land of the Jewish people and there are those that intentionally try to steal that land and control it by force. It is impossible to close our eyes and run from this reality.”
In a statement emailed to the media on Saturday night, the body that co-ordinates Israeli government policy on the Bedouin criticised the protests on Saturday. “Extremists, many of whom are not Bedouin, chose to divert the open debate about a purely social and humanitarian cause into a confrontation, falsely linked to the Palestinian issue,” it said.
The Prawer Plan was aimed at providing “adequate housing, public services and a better future for [the] children” of the Bedouin population in the Negev. It would allow them to “integrate into the fabric of a modern state while preserving their traditions,” said the statement.
Knesset Member Wants Fellow
Arab-Israeli MPs to Get in the Game
Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse
August 22, 2013
Issawi Frej (Meretz) is the only Arab Knesset member today who is not a member of an Arab party. Twelve Arabs serve in the current Knesset, out of which 11 represent Arab parties (Balad, Ra’am-Ta’al and Hadash). This fact is an expression of the growing estrangement between Arab Israelis and the Zionist left-wing parties — a process that accelerated on the heels of the October 2000 riots, in which 13 Arab citizens were killed. Another expression of the growing gap is the sharp decrease in the number of party members from the Arab sector in the Labor Party. While in the past this sector had the power to tilt the balance in the Labor Party, in the recent 2013 election its influence almost totally dissipated.
Frej joined Meretz 20 years ago, when he was an economics and accounting student at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. The party was then headed by former Minister Shulamit Aloni. Now he and the other Arab Knesset members are at the epicenter of a political storm, in the wake of the July 31 Knesset resolution to raise the electoral threshold from 2% to 4% of the votes. While Knesset members from the Arab parties argue that this step is directed at harming them, Frej raises the opposite claim in an interview with Al-Monitor. Even though he voted against the bill, Frej feels that the change will actually increase Arab representation in the Knesset, and prefers that this representation will occur within the left-wing Zionist parties.
Al-Monitor: If it is good for Arab representation, why did you vote against raising the electoral threshold?
Frej: “Because ideologically, I am against it. Israeli society is comprised of minorities, and these groups must be given an outlet for expression. But pragmatically, I am in favor of raising the electoral threshold. There is something called survival power, which is stronger than any other force; and in such a situation, you join forces to survive, and that’s what will direct them [the Arab parties]. Ultimately, it will lead to one powerful Arab party. Such a party could even reach 15 mandates.”
Al-Monitor: You are an anomaly in the parliamentary landscape, an Arab in a left-wing Zionist party. Why did you choose such a political home, a priori?
Frej: “When I went to the Hebrew University from Kfar Kassem, I was a political virgin. I didn’t understand anything about the occupation and the Palestinians. Until 7th grade, we sang Israeli Independence Day songs in school and raised the Israeli flag. We didn’t know anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We had a total lack of political awareness. At university, I came closer to the ‘Sons of the Village’ [Palestinian] movement — the seed group of the Balad Party. I was embraced by the radical party and, for two years, became a political activist in its service.
“One day, I saw an announcement in the university that Shulamit Aloni was coming to talk to the students. I went with another friend to disrupt her speech, but as soon as she opened her mouth to speak I was in shock: This Jewish Zionist woman was talking to us about the evils of the occupation in the same language that we used. After that encounter I began a thinking process that led me to leave the ‘Sons of the Village’ movement and join the Meretz Party.
“And there was something else. At that time I needed money, and [Labor Knesset member] Eitan Cabel got me work as a courier in the student union. I started working, one day the chairman of the Arab student union calls and asks me angrily, what are you doing? You are working for the Zionist establishment. At that moment, I understood that he couldn’t care less if I was hungry or had to stop my studies. It was at that point that the barrier was totally breached.”
Al-Monitor: There was no conflict?
Frej: “At the beginning of my university studies I remained in my corner, the corner of the nationalistic Arab, but when you emerge from that place and your head begins to work, you see things differently. When I started to come into more and more contact with Jews, I understood that I can also be part of something. In Meretz, I found what I was looking for. I retain my legacy and my language, and my identity as both Palestinian and Israeli.
“The rules of the game prevail everywhere in the world. Here, the Arab minority is part of the state — like it or not. The fact that Israeli Arabs abstain from participating in elections more and more, strengthens the [political] right. In other words, their abstention has the reverse effect. I chose to take an active part in the political game, while retaining my identity: I am a Palestinian, but I am no less an Israeli. I am a human being born to two mothers: my biological mother is Palestine and my adoptive mother is Israel. My adoptive mother views me as a fifth column, and my biological mother rebukes me for forgetting that she gave birth to me. The solution is to be a bridge between the biological and adoptive mothers.”
Al-Monitor: Do you feel that your friends in the Arab parties err in that they don’t act like you do?
Frej: “What angers me about my friends in the Arab parties is that they act from their hearts, not their minds. If they would operate from within the left-wing parties, they would have more influence and greater achievements. In principle, I am against sectorial parties because I feel that the Arab public should fully integrate the Zionist left. Of course, this is under the assumption that they are not brushed off but accepted with their differences to a party that allows them to preserve their values, a party built on social justice and humanism. The Jews in such a party would define themselves as Zionists and the Arabs would regard themselves as Arabs, but they would share a joint goal.
“The Arab parties have limited effectiveness since most of the time they are observers that do not participate in the game. I view politics in the Knesset as a kind of soccer game: There is a right-wing group and a left-wing group, and 11 Arab Knesset members who sit in the [peanut] gallery in protest. So who needs them? I want them as players.”
Al-Monitor: It seems that the Arab public is not enthusiastic over its representatives. A significant part of it does not even bother to vote.
Frej: “The Arab citizen does not view his Arab representatives in the Knesset as having the clout necessary to change his circumstances. He circulates with the perception that he is not welcome in the country, that he is on probation. The average Arab youth feels that he is on the margins. That is expressed in the filthy streets, the dense construction, the attitude of the secretary in the university and racism in general. He thinks to himself that nothing will ever change. I believe that as soon as the state will start to embrace the Arabs, the anti-establishment Arab parties will no longer have a raison d’etre.”
Al-Monitor: As opposed to other Arab Knesset members, you chose to focus on social justice issues in your parliamentary work and not diplomatic issues. Maybe you find it uncomfortable to get involved in diplomatic issues from within a party like Meretz?
Frej: “No. My election slogan was: My agenda is my home. I came and said: For 65 years, the neglected Arab minority has been held hostage to the solution of the Palestinian problem. And what will happen if the problem is never solved? I will continue to remain a hostage, neglected and cast aside. Therefore, I deal only with social justice issues. This way I promote the solutions to problems that plague Arab citizens. The nationalist discourse exhausts the Knesset members of the Arab parties, they must invest many efforts and resources in it.
“I believe that we share a common destiny with the Jews. Some of what the Arab Knesset members do runs contrary to my worldview. I, for example, would never have joined the Marmara flotilla raid. I also disagree with Knesset member [Jamal] Zahalka who wants autonomy for the Arab minority. True, I am in favor of cultural autonomy, but I am part of the existing state and parliament.”
Mazal Mualem is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor and formerly a chief political analyst for Maariv and Haaretz. She also previously worked for Bamachane, the Israeli army’s weekly newspaper.
Upstart Israeli News Channel i24 Takes Aim at CNN, the BBC—and Al Jazeera
Executives say they’re reaching 350 million viewers worldwide, and none of them in Hebrew
August 20, 2013
The headquarters of i24news, Israel’s first international news channel, is still unfinished. Outside, the glass building in Tel Aviv’s newly redeveloped Jaffa port sparkles, but inside the cavernous blue-lit newsroom, where broadcasts launched in mid-July, wires and beams are still exposed. But the ongoing construction doesn’t seem to bother the 150 journalists working around the clock to produce simultaneous newscasts in English, French, and Arabic.
It’s a mix that, by leaving out Hebrew, immediately signals i24’s ambition to speak to viewers beyond Israel’s borders. While English and French were obvious choices, the network’s founders say the decision to broadcast in Arabic was taken consciously to build an audience in parts of the world most hostile to Israel. “People will watch us because they hate us, and they will watch us through curiosity,” said Frank Melloul, the network’s Swiss-born 39-year-old CEO, who says he believes he can eventually compete with CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera for viewers. “They will see how we cover the 70 percent of international news, and if they can trust that, then they will also trust how we cover Israeli news.”
The goal, Melloul says, is not so much to promote Israel’s interests, but to shift the media narrative by adding to the mix of stories available on television. “I want to change the story a bit,” Melloul said. Last week, when 26 prisoners were sent back to the West Bank and Gaza in the first stage of that release, the i24 website carried a detailed list of their exact names and crimes, as well as the names of their victims, many of whom were murdered civilians. “When we are talking about an incursion in Gaza, all channels start broadcasting when the IDF is going into Gaza,” Melloul said. “Nobody starts broadcasting when Israel is under attack and getting rockets. There is always a fact before an invasion in Gaza.”
Melloul has played this game before, at France24, where he was head of strategy before moving to Israel to join i24 last January. What sets i24 apart from its competitors is that it isn’t a government project: Licensed in Luxembourg and so far lacking any commercial advertisers, it is chiefly bankrolled by Patrick Drahi, the media tycoon who also owns Israel’s HOT network. The new channel is privately held; its budget has been reported in the French press to run about 50 million euros, about half of what France24 cost annually and a mere drop in the bucket compared to the $1 billion launch budget for the Qatari-backed Al Jazeera.
But i24 is clearly following the path blazed by those broadcasters. “In some ways the BBC was the original, and Al Jazeera is the most prominent. But I look at France24 and at Russia Today, at CCTV in China and in America, and I think to myself that maybe every big country is going to have its own channel,” said Brian Stelter, a media reporter for the New York Times and author of Top of the Morning. “I assume that the real unique trait about this channel is the notion of them balancing out Al Jazeera,” he added. “But it makes a lot of sense for this to happen because it seems like we’re going to see a lot of countries doing this.”
So far, i24’s broadcasts suggest building a news channel from scratch will be an uphill battle. This week, i24 offered the same top stories as its competitors, leading its afternoon news breaks with the potential release of Hosni Mubarak from prison and the killing of scores of Egyptian policemen in the Sinai Peninsula, just as appeared on both CNN and Al Jazeera. But while the major international news networks all had reporters on the ground, i24, which employs a few freelance stringers abroad but has yet to put any non-Israeli staff on its payroll, resorted to showing stock footage with a heavily accented voiceover. Anchors routinely trip over English-language pronunciation, and news tickers often carry typos. English-language interviews and Crossfire-style debates between Israeli anchors and Israeli experts often have the forced feel of a language-class exchange, with both parties sometimes struggling to find the proper words and not revert back to Hebrew.
Still, less than six weeks after its launch, executives insist the station is making an impact. The channel is available on TVs in 350 million households around the world, with satellite and cable broadcasts beaming it across Europe, Asia, and much of the Middle East. An expansion onto U.S. screens is slated for as early as January 2014. Meanwhile, it reaches an unlimited number of viewers worldwide via a live stream—which has attracted a handful of hits from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Egypt, executives say, though i24’s website has already been blocked by at least one Internet provider in Tunisia.
Its staff has been drawn from established Israeli outlets and includes print and online journalists who are learning television as they go. “I’m telling the broader story, and I’m telling it the way I think it should be told,” said Tal Shalev, the channel’s 33-year-old diplomatic correspondent who left a gig at Walla!, one of the nation’s most popular Web portals, to join i24. A native Israeli, Shalev, like nearly everyone on the English desk, delivers the news in confident but accented English. “I do think we can compete, eventually, with the bigger guys. I think we will be very worthy competitors because we’re telling the story in an interesting and unique way.”
Shalev and her colleagues insist that what they’re doing is straight news, not hasbara. “I’m not a government spokesperson, and I don’t want to be the one to provide those tools,” said Jeff Abramowitz, a pipe-smoking, straight-talking South African who serves as editor in chief of the English-language evening edition at i24. He joined the station after 15 years in Israel at the German press agency DPA. “We have no connection with the Israeli government at all,” he went on. “I have not been told by anyone how to present a story, what angle to take or how to do it.”
Adar Primor, the editor in chief of Internet and multimedia for the channel, said he has been told in plain language that i24 is not a promotional tool for the state of Israel. “This is how it was presented to me, that we would not be a propaganda site,” said Primor, a 20-year veteran of Haaretz. “We will bring forward some aspects of Israel that are not brought in other media outlets. So, for me it was important to understand that we are not bringing only one side of the conflict, or one side of everything.”
NGOs vs. those who serve Israel
In 2010, Cpl. Eleanor Joseph became the first female Arab combat soldier in the IDF. Joseph, a Christian Arab told Ma’ariv that her good luck charm is a drawing of the Star of David with the caption: “I have no other land, even when my ground is burning.” Her commander drew it for her.
Joseph explained, “It is a phrase that strengthens me. Every time I experience hardship, I read it. Because I was born here. The people I love live here: My parents, my friends. This is a Jewish state? Yes, it is. But it’s also my country. I can’t imagine living in any other place. I think every person should serve in the army. You live here? You make your home here? Then go defend your country. What does it matter that I’m an Arab?”
Joseph’s story represents an incipient trend of integration among Israel’s Arab community.
Among other things, this is manifest in the consistently rising number of Israeli Arab students who elect to study in Hebrew-language schools and in the rising number of Israeli Arabs who elect to serve in national service, the civilian equivalent of military service.
A poll of Arab youth carried out in late 2007 made clear how widespread this integrationist impulse has become. Seventy-five percent of Arab youth aged 16 to 22 supported voluntary national service.
And yet, despite these sentiments and developments, Arab Israelis who seek to integrate into Israeli society and reject the separatist messages of their political leaders are forced to contend with extraordinary social pressures and even coercion to prevent them from acting in accordance with their wishes.
A study completed this week by Im Tirtzu exposes the vast array of NGOs generously funded by the supposedly pro-Israel New Israel Fund as well as by foreign governments which are running a campaign to oppose Cpl. Joseph and her comrades – Arabs and Jews alike. Since 1999, these groups have been conducting a campaign to undermine Arab integration into Israeli society specifically and to demoralize and reduce the social standing of those who serve in the IDF, national service and IDF reserves generally. The campaign is being carried out on a dual track of discouraging Israeli Arabs from serving in the IDF or national service, and of opposing government benefits to IDF veterans, reservists and those who undertook national service by claiming that these benefits unjustly discriminate against Israeli Arabs.
Im Tirtzu’s report argues that the dual nature of the campaign, underwritten by the same funders, shows that the goal “is to prolong irredentism or non-integration of the Arab sector in order to encourage it to act as a sector demanding national recognition and advance the aim of transforming the State of Israel from a Jewish, democratic state into a bi-national state.”
As the report notes, it is common practice in many countries to give government benefits and preferential treatment to military veterans and reservists. The US government provides massive assistance to veterans in employment, education, housing and other areas. The purpose of these benefits is to raise general motivation to serve and to reward those who have because the American people believe that their personal service advances the interests of American society as a whole.
To substantiate its claims against these NIF- and foreign government-financed Israeli NGOs, Im Tirtzu’s organized its report as a timeline of efforts undertaken by various NGOs to advance the goals of Arab separatism and reducing the morale and social status of IDF and national service veterans and reservists across the board.
Although the Hebrew-language report is worth reading in its entirety, a few examples will suffice to show the scope of these efforts.
In 1999, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel published a report which claimed it was discriminatory for workplaces to make military service a qualification for employment. The report went so far as to insinuate that Israel could be likened to South Africa’s apartheid regime due to workplace preference for veterans.
That report was followed by a series of petitions to the High Court beginning in 2002 submitted by ACRI, Adalah and other groups to overturn laws and government decisions that give preferential treatment to IDF veterans and those who served in national service. The petitions have not led to outright court victories. But in a number of cases, the lawsuits were dropped after the government canceled the benefits under challenge.
These groups have opposed every sort of benefit, including tuition discounts for students, differential reductions on government child allotments for those who served in the military and national service and those who did not, preferential treatment in state land tenders and grants and other housing benefits.
Some of these court cases directly targeted benefits to Arab IDF veterans. For instance in 2005, Adalah petitioned the court against the Israel Lands Authority for making military service a requirement for receiving ILA land grants in Beduin villages. And in 2009, Adalah petitioned the court to revoke preferential treatment to Cirassian veterans in an ILA tender for homesteads in Kfar Kama, a Cirassian village in the Galilee.
ACRI receives nearly a million dollars every year from the NIF, and receives funding as well from the EU, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, the Ford Foundation and Christian Aid.
Adalah similarly receives massive funding from the NIF, the EU, Switzerland and Scandinavian governments through their joint foreign aid organs. It also receives funding from George Soros’s Open Society Institute.
Some of the organizations involved are both funders and participants. For instance, the Abraham Fund has participated in High Court petitions against benefits to those who have served.
And it is also a donor to Mossawa, an Israeli Arab group involved in the campaign. Mossawa was co-founded by NIF’s Shatil organization.
According Im Tirtzu’s report, active NGO campaigning against Israeli Arab national service and military service began in 2007. That year Baladna, which receives funding from the NIF, spearheaded what has become a continuous campaign to discourage Israeli Arabs from participating in national service. Baladna claims that national service is just military service in disguise.
In its words, “National service is a direct arm of the Israeli Occupation Army and of security frameworks that act and always have acted against the Arab population and the Palestinian nation generally. And so, all attempts to present the notion of civilian service as service for society are founded in a deliberate distortion directed at society generally and against the Arab sector in particular.”
Following this line of reasoning, in 2010 Omar Nasser, the head of the Araba Local Council, kicked two Arab women serving in national service out of the local school. Defending his actions Nasser said, “I object in principle to the national service project because I view it as a means of paving the way for male and female volunteers to serve in the military in the future, and I strenuously object to that.”
As the Im Tirtzu report indicates, the NGO-led campaign against Israeli Arab military and national service has contributed to a situation in which Israeli Arabs who support such service are subjected to physical abuse, social ostracism, humiliation and harassment.
In October 2012, the Forum for Military Service in the Christian Sector held a conference in Upper Nazareth whose purpose was to encourage Christians to serve in the IDF and national service. Three hundred people participated in the conference. One of the heads of Mosawa wrote a widely distributed article accusing the Christian leadership of collaborating with the IDF. She suggested blacklisting the communal leaders involved.
When word of the conference got out, one priest who participated was banned from the Church of the Annunciation. Another priest had his tires slashed and a blood-stained rag placed at his doorstep.
The children who participated in the conference were singled out for abuse. Their photos were disseminated on Facebook and in the Arab media. They were humiliated by their teachers and classmates.
Soldiers like Eleanor Joseph feel compelled to take off their uniforms before they return home, because when they have worn them home, they have faced harassment. One female IDF soldier reportedly was severely beaten by her neighbors.
The general campaign against benefits for IDF veterans and those who served in national service also involves a similar campaign to demoralize high school students and encourage them not to serve. For instance, in 2008, Social TV, which is supported by the NIF and the US government, broadcast a propaganda film targeting Jewish Israeli youth. Its aim was to discourage them from serving in the IDF.
In 2009, 22 self-proclaimed feminist organizations, many of which are financed by the NIF, launched a campaign to support seven members of New Profile who are under police investigation for launching websites instructing young people how to dodge the draft – a felony offense.
But the main thrust of the anti-military campaign has been to prevent and undermine Knesset and government action to provide benefits for those who serve – Jewish and non-Jewish alike. According to Im Tirtzu, the campaign has intimidated Justice Ministry officials into obstructing bills still before committee hearings.
For instance, in May 2012, at a Knesset Economics Committee hearing on a bill to provide housing benefits for IDF reservists, MK Miri Regev said the bill was being held up because the attorney-general feared legal challenges in the High Court.
This week, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill that would allow IDF soldiers to sue for libel those who wrongly accuse them of having committed war crimes during their military service. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni opposed the bill. Her opposition indicates that the bill may face a similar fate as the Knesset’s attempt to provide benefits to reservists.
Military and national service are vital national institutions. Integration of the Israeli Arab community is a vital national interest. It is obscene that a handful of well-funded radicals are able to undermine them both – while paralyzing our representative institutions.
Im Tirtzu’s report concludes with a list of recommendations the Knesset and government ministries should take to help those who serve the country, and to protect Israeli Arabs who serve and those who support them. While they are all correct, and should be followed, they do not go far enough. The time has come for the government and the Knesset to rein in the twin forces – the NGO sector and the legal fraternity – which in the name of “democracy” undermine our democracy.
Every election we send our representatives to the Knesset. And every election the vast majority of our elected representatives share our desire to support those who serve in the IDF and national service without reference to their religion, race or gender. We want to support them because they contribute to the general good of all of Israel.
But due to a handful of NGOs that receive their funding from outside Israel from governments and groups that do not share our values and interests, and due to the cooperation they receive from activist judges and radical Justice Ministry attorneys, the will of the people is stymied again and again and again.
The dishonesty of ‘The Gatekeepers’
Roz rothstein and Roberta Seid
February 13, 2013
The film sends a ‘simplistic political message,’ implying that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank stands between terrorism and peace.
The Gatekeepers, could have been a profound film. Instead, Moreh uses his interviews with six former directors of Israel’s top security services to send a simplistic and deeply partisan political message: If Israel withdraws from the West Bank, terrorism will subside and peace will break out.
To promote this message, the documentary engages in intellectual dishonesty and omits critical context. While most Israelis know the wider context, the average viewer probably does not, and therefore is vulnerable to the filmmaker’s biased version of the facts.
Though the film tries to portray Israel’s antiterrorism policies as counterproductive and cruel, the interviews inadvertently tell a different story. The six directors are well-spoken, deeply thoughtful, and genuinely self-critical.
They exude gravitas as they describe wrestling with the moral quandaries they regularly faced.
They are not cruel men. They sincerely grappled with how to protect Israelis and Palestinian civilians alike. Their descriptions of the Shin Bet’s legal and ethical constraints are a testament to Israel’s high moral standards. Their comfort in speaking freely is a testament to Israel’s robust democracy.
However, the film repeatedly ignores history and context. It blames Israel for the Palestinian hostility and violence that occurred after 1967, when Israel began administering the West Bank.
The viewer never learns from the film that terrorism against Jews and Israelis was not a result of Israel’s administration but rather has been a regular feature of life since pre-state days.
Palestinian Arabs murdered over 1,000 Jews between 1920 and 1967, and they ethnically cleansed all Jewish communities from the areas they captured during the 1948 war, including the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem. The pattern of terrorism simply continued after Israel’s victory in its 1967 defensive war. Yasser Arafat organized 61 Fatah military operations from the West Bank in the few months after the war, and 162 Israelis were killed by terrorists between 1968 and 1970.
Visually and verbally, the film portrays Israel as a heartless occupier. Audiences get no information about how harsh life was for Palestinians under Egyptian and Jordanian rule between 1948 and 1967, with rampant childhood diseases, economic stagnation and restricted civil and political rights. In addition, the documentary completely overlooks the big picture of positive Israeli-Palestinian relations after 1967.
Even as Israel sought to stop terrorists, it also instituted Palestinian municipal self-government and administration, introduced freedom of speech and association, and vastly modernized the Palestinian economy as well as Palestinian health, welfare and education, turning the West Bank and Gaza into the world’s fourth fastestgrowing economy in the 1970s and 1980s.
In line with his political agenda, Moreh tries to paint all religious Israelis, settlers and rightof- center parties as extremist and intransigent.
The film insinuates that just as many Palestinians are terrorists and incite hatred, so do many Jews. For proof, Moreh magnifies selected incidents, particularly the case of Jewish settlers from Hebron who formed the “Jewish Underground” in 1980.
The film would have audiences believe the Jewish Underground, which wounded two Palestinian mayors, murdered three Palestinians, and plotted to blow up four Palestinian buses and the Dome of the Rock, is fairly representative of most settlers. It is not. Save for the handful of members of the Jewish Underground, Israel does not have Jewish terrorist organizations.
While extremists exist in Israel as in any society, the overwhelming majority of settlers, both religious and secular, are law-abiding citizens.
The country as a whole condemns and marginalizes such extremism. The Shin Bet arrested the Jewish Underground leaders in 1984, and the Israeli government and the vast majority of Israelis, including other settlers, denounced the group, though some Israeli leaders at the time continued to express concerns about the lack of government protection for Hebron’s Jews.
Similarly, because the sentences meted out to the Jewish Underground’s leaders were commuted, the film implies that the Israeli government has been “soft” on Jewish extremists and uses double standards, treating Palestinian terrorists far more leniently than Jewish terrorists.
But these members were freed only after serving almost seven years, not because Israel was “soft” on Jewish terrorists but because Israel had released the very Palestinian prisoners who had perpetrated the attacks that drove the Jewish Underground to organize.
SUCH OMISSIONS of fact and context continue throughout the film. Moreh makes the Shin Bet’s actions seem immoral or counterproductive by minimizing the context of terrorism.
Moreh glosses over the impact of the second intifada (2000-2005), yet the horrors of its terrorism and the fanatical hatred that motivated suicide bombers decimated Israel’s peace camp, a critical fact that the film simply overlooks. The audience does not learn that almost 1,100 Israelis were murdered and thousands more maimed by terrorists during the second intifada.
More disappointingly, the film never alludes to the daunting challenge these Shin Bet directors faced. Israel is fighting terrorists who routinely hide among Palestinian civilians precisely to shield themselves from IDF attacks because they know the IDF tries to avoid harming innocent bystanders. Pressed by the interviewer to admit that the Shin Bet’s actions were immoral during his tenure (1981-1986), Avraham Shalom finally snaps back: “This isn’t about morality…. When the terrorists become moral, we’ll be moral.”
Nor does the film depict the nature of the enemy Israel faces. Hamas’ genocidal ideology never comes up in the interviews. Yet the goals of Hamas, clearly expressed in its charter and its leaders’ statements, call for the murder of Jews and the “obliteration” of Israel, and are suffused with anti-Semitism. The film ignores the relentless incitement to hate and kill Jews that pervades Palestinian society officially and unofficially.
The film never explores the significance of what one Shin Bet director heard from a PLO terrorist he interrogated: terrorists consider it a victory when they make Jews suffer.
More disturbingly, the viewer never learns that Israel has repeatedly tried to do precisely what Moreh advocates. The film never mentions Israel’s offers to trade land for peace in 1967, 1979, 2000 and 2008, or that Palestinian leaders systematically rejected these offers.
Moreh wants audiences to share his wishful thinking, that Israel can end the conflict simply by withdrawing from the West Bank. But recent history, omitted from the film, contradicts this expectation. Israel pulled out of its security zone in Lebanon in 2000 and removed every settlement and over 8,000 Israelis from Gaza in 2005. The results were escalating threats and terrorism from Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon and from Iranian client Hamas in Gaza, which fired over 13,000 rockets and mortars into Israel’s southern communities between 2005 and 2012.
The documentary should be credited for revealing how much Israelis have retained their humanity and their hopes for peaceful coexistence, as exemplified by the Shin Bet directors.
This is a tribute to the Israeli spirit and to Israel’s enduring search for peace, but it also underscores Israel’s tragic dilemma: Israelis want peace, but they cannot find partners for peace unless, like Moreh, they turn a blind eye to the ongoing hostility and threats against them.
Moreh’s effort to blame Israel and the Shin Bet’s actions for the ongoing hostility to the Jewish state is like blaming the victim who is defending himself instead of blaming the perpetrator.
The Gatekeepers‘ material could have produced a profound film if it had not been sacrificed for a political message and if the film had been more intellectually honest and included the historical pattern of genocidal ideology, the ongoing violence, and the existential strategic challenges that Israel faces every day. It is these hard realities and that make the Shin Bet’s work so crucial and so heroic.
Roz Rothstein is the CEO and co-founder of StandWithUs. Roberta Seid, PhD, is the research and education director of StandWithUs.
Israel Bashing in the Israeli Movie World
March 7, 2013
It is a depressing reflection of our times, when many of us heaved a sigh of relief when neither of the two Israeli documentary Oscar nominations received awards.
In the current perverted environment, it has become a hallmark of left liberal political correctness to project Israel as a racist and colonial implant imposed on the Palestinian underdogs, even if that necessitates a distortion of reality.
In Israel, practitioners of the arts, especially film producers, are conscious that creating a work which besmirches their nation enhances their prospects of achieving global recognition. That, in part, explains why so many recent Israeli films with a social or political dimension designed for international consumption, have tended to be masochistically critical and demeaning.
What makes this even more bizarre is that in many cases, rabidly anti-Israeli films are subsidized by the Israeli taxpayer.
This was exemplified by the Israel bashing documentary “Five Broken Cameras” which depicts protests against the construction of the security barrier in Bilin without even a hint as to why a security barrier and checkpoints were required. It demonizes Israel’s administration of the disputed territories and portrays the IDF as cruel heartless tyrants whilst presenting Palestinians as noble underdogs.
It is co-directed by an extremist leftist Israeli who supports global boycott of his country and a hostile Palestinian, who had the chutzpa to demand that the government-subsidized documentary not be designated as an Israeli production.
Most Israelis would consider it the height of insanity for the government to fund and effectively bestow legitimacy to an enterprise engaged in a global campaign to defame, challenge its right to self-defense and delegitimize it.
The other Oscar nomination, “The Gatekeepers”, raises far more complex issues. Yet it is likely to inflict considerably greater damage to Israel’s standing than the cruder propaganda production.
This documentary, directed by Dror Moreh, is based on over 70 hours of interviews with five former heads of the Shin Bet from 1980 to the present, all of whom served the nation with distinction. We are unable to ascertain whether the extracts presented reflect fair and balanced views of the participants but, to date, none of them have protested that they were misrepresented.
The film unquestionably portrays Israel negatively. It is presented as a colonial implant and is replete with harsh denunciations of alleged torture, racial discrimination, targeted assassinations, needless violence and oppression in the disputed territories. It depicts cruel military commanders “winning the battles but losing the war”.
Avraham Shalom, one of the former Shin Bet heads, initially states that “with terrorism there are no morals” and any measure to save innocent lives is warranted. But towards the end of the film he remarks “we became cruel” and challenges the morality of current policies. There is even an obscene analogy between Israeli and Nazi occupation policies – implying that we practice genocide, ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
This extremely critical presentation raises other important issues. Without in any way detracting from their service in defense of the state, we are not obliged to treat these five former heads of Shin Bet as sacred cows. One is entitled to ask why did they remain silent in office and refrain from expressing such views until their retirement? If they felt so strongly about these issues why did they not resign?
There are surely serious questions of propriety involved when senior intelligence officers, upon retirement, become bleeding hearts and engage in publicly undermining the policies implemented throughout their career.
Particularly so, as this was not the first outburst of this nature by former Shin Bet heads. In 2003, four former Shin Bet heads publicly called for unilateral withdrawal. We are all conscious of the disastrous consequences which resulted when Ariel Sharon implemented their recommendations and uprooted the Gaza settlements. The territories ceded were immediately overtaken by Hamas and employed to launch missiles deeper into Israel.
However, my principal ire is directed towards Dror Moreh who, aware that his production could have major international impact, should at least have placed the alleged suffering and victimization of Palestinians in context and not dealt with such issues almost in isolation.
Moreh provided insufficient emphasis to the context of terror which obliges Israel to take tough steps to to defend the lives of its citizens. He should have laid greater emphasis on the swarms of suicide bombers targeting and murdering more than 1100 innocent Israelis during the Second Intifada; the genocidal hatred and calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state; the brainwashing of Palestinian children from kindergarten age upwards into believing that the highest Islamic objective is martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible; the impact on a quarter of the Israeli population traumatized by 13,000 missiles launched against them between 2005 and 2012, obliging them and their families to spend much of their time in underground shelters.
He should have mentioned that Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert were rebuffed after they had offered 95% of the territories over the Green Line to the Palestinian Authority and that despite Prime Minister Netanyahu having imposed a 10 month settlement freeze and called for negotiations without preconditions, the Palestinians rejected all these offers.
Instead, Moreh used his documentary to repeat the mindless mantra “end the occupation”.
“The Gatekeepers” Opens the Gate for Anti-Zionism
Liberal left Jews – the ‘good’ Jews, not those fanatic Zionists – saw the movie almost as a religious experience.
Prof. Phyllis Chesler
February 04, 2013
The crowd at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema on the upper west side is mainly Jewish and liberal—ultra-liberal. They behave as if they are superior to all “oustjuden,” the illiterate, superstitious, unwashed Eastern European Jews–and therefore, in their sleek leather boots and fashionable coats they are, surely, finally, safe. At least, safer. After millennia of persecution, here are Jews who are not self-hating, not even opportunist, just Jews who feel secure as long as they feel superior to other Jews.
The “outsjuden today are the Zionists, the “settlers,” the “right wing.”
Psychologically, this means that they deserve to survive. They are the “good” Jews. Assimilated, exquisitely moral, the first to find imperfections in their co-religionists.
The line swells, people smile, conversations erupt.
“I am surprised those Zionists are not outside protesting,” says one woman.
“They’ll be here for the later showing, believe me” says another.
A man chimes in: “You have no idea how fanatic they can be. I know.”
His listeners nod approvingly.
And still, these safe-and-liberal Jews push and shove and behave like Jews do on a line, at the Jewish Film Festival or at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. This I find funny and slightly endearing.
The film, “The Gatekeepers” directed by Dror Moreh, will cause Israel great harm, great damage. Even if each of the six former heads of the Shin Bet had the right to say what he said; even if the filmmaker had the right to direct just such a film—with messianic hopes of his own that his film will jump-start the Oslo Accords and influence the destiny of the Israelis and the Palestinians; even if more than half of what each former Shin Bet director has to say is true, either technically or factually or philosophically or metaphorically—the filmmaker has an agenda; he is following a lethal narrative script against the Jewish state.
For example, we mainly see Israeli soldiers in full battle gear, rounding up their unarmed, barefoot, blindfolded and handcuffed Arab cousins. Or, we see Israelis commanding targeted assassination drone attacks from safe distances with horrendous collateral damage. We do not see Palestinian terrorists knifing Israeli infants to death or stoning young Israeli boys to death in a cave, or blowing Israeli civilians and tourists up on buses.
Yes, we do see the bloody, heartless carnage of some bus bombings but we do not see the handlers sending their targeted “marks” off to do the bloody deed and thereby ascend to Paradise. Yes, we do see some quick shots of a Palestinian suicide video and of marching, face-masked Jihadists, but no one is ever tied to a particular attack upon Israeli civilians.
Only the Israelis are tied, over and over again, to a handful of specific (and alleged) military and “terrorist” attacks of their own.
Even if the scenes of the right-wing anti-Rabin protests and the alleged “settler” plot to blow up the Al Aqsa mosque are real, as in they really took place—the filmmaker does not manipulate the emotions of his audience by showing us, from within, the Palestinians building their bombs, indoctrinating the next generations, vowing to annihilate Israel and the Jews, torturing dissenters and “collaborators.”
We see Palestinians mainly as pitiful victims.
We do not see Gilad Shalit in captivity. We have no fictionalized recreation of Kobi Mandel being stoned to death in a cave or of Israeli mothers and infants being murdered while they sleep. We have no footage of the rockets landing in southern Israel and the terrified children with only seconds to get to a bomb shelter—now traumatized for life. We do not see how 24 Israeli soldiers were massacred, one by one, in Jenin, as they went in on foot in order to avoid international censure for daring to dismantle the bomb-making apparatuses in Jenin.
Yes, we see some scenes of fiery Palestinian rock throwing and some of the awful bus bombings of both the first and second Intifadas. But, Mr. Moreh is no moreh.
He does not talk to the Shin Bet’s counterpart heads of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Authority, or Hezb’ollah, etc. He has his six retired Israeli directors tell us that the Palestinians are ready for peace, that in private meetings they have said so, and that the Israeli government is blind, stubborn, refuses to listen—to the peaceful Palestinians and to their Shin Bet commanders. Can this be true? Can anyone believe it?
Even if it were, Dror Moreh focuses only on Israel’s failed perfection, questionable morality. His focus is tight and narrow. If Israel is not “perfect” then it does not deserve to survive is the unspoken morality here. He has Shin Bet directors describing Israel’s actions as “cruel,” German-like, the government as “winning the battles but losing the war,” and as worse, much worse. This filmmaker still fervently believes in the Oslo Accords. He does not seem to understand how much Arafat was offered and what he refused, that instead, he launched the Second Intifada.
Moreh does not tell us—not even once—that the Palestinians, (really, the Arabs who were once Egyptians, Syrians, and Jordanians and who historically never thought of themselves as “Palestinians”), kept refusing to become a state, insisting all the while that their goal was to exterminate the Jewish entity in the otherwise entirely judenrein Arab Middle East.
Almost in passing, Moreh does give us this one chilling admission. A Palestinian counterpart to one of the Shin Bet heads is quoted as having said: “To us, victory means you suffering.” And after fifty years when the suffering has balanced out—when your F-16s are equal to our suicide killers then…..” the speaker goes no further.
Moreh only used a very small percentage of the time he spent with Shalom, Diskin, Peri, Gillon, and two other Shin Bet directors. Some directors feel, (this is their words), that they were hung out to dry, stopped from doing their job (by the politicians), blamed, not thanked–but even this is hard to be conclusive about because we don’t know what else they said and what the context was for the quotes Moreh chose to use/
The film is well made, tense, dramatic, with faked (“Pallywood” style) recreations and real black and white footage. Of course, the film reviews are adoring and filled with admiration. The film has been nominated for an Academy award. What courage Moreh has demonstrated! But not really: He represents a very trendy point of view, both on the upper west side and in Tel Aviv. This is the kind of film the French (who sheltered Arafat in so many ways) sponsored. This film confirms the European view that Israel is evil, wrong, engages in ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
And yet, an Israeli filmmaker could make such a film and Shin Bet directors could talk to him, perhaps saying things they should not have said. No one is in jail. No one has been assassinated.
I am waiting for a Palestinian filmmaker to make a comparable film, one that exposes the Muslim-on-Muslim violence, corruption and culture of torture; one that exposes the Muslim-on-Christian violence that has sent Arab Christians running to Jewish Israel for cover; one that exposes the handler’s ruthless manipulation of a psychologically vulnerable suicide killer-to-be; one that exposes the Arab League decision not to allow a single Palestinian to become a citizen in any Arab country but instead, to rot in villas, palaces, and “refugee camps,” infernal, eternal fodder against the Jewish presence in the Middle East.
People were relatively quiet as they filed out of the movie theatre. It was as if they had just had a religious experience; their every prejudice confirmed somehow elevated them. To the extent to which this film is accurate I salute it. To the extent to which it is false, defamatory, biased, exaggerated—I consider it suicidal and traitorous.
Afterword: I have just read the excellent piece by Rick Richman in the New York Sun which was just posted online. In his review of this film, Richman points out that four of these same former Shin Bet directors were the men who had previously gone on record castigating Sharon’s “settlement” policy. Sharon caved and pulled out of Gaza in 2006, which resulted in Hamastan right next door. The interviews were done in 2003,according to information in Commentary.
Some 150 American, UK theater and film actors, directors sign petition in support of Israeli artists’ boycott of Ariel culture center
Hundreds of Israel Arabs, Druze decide to push politics aside and enroll in West Bank university center. Ariel is a large city that has existed for many years; we just came here to get an education,’ they explain
Some 11,500 students, among them 500 Arab and Druze Israelis, began the academic year Sunday at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, which is located in the West Bank, beyond the Green Line.
“I scored high on my psychometric exam and could have enrolled in Tel Aviv University and other institutions, but here the enrollment process was quicker. This was the first place that accepted me, so I decided to go for it,” said 20-year-old Tayibe resident Manar Diuani, who is studying computer science.
A group of prominent Israeli artists recently caused a public uproar when they drafted a letter declaring their refusal to perform in Ariel’s new cultural hall for political reasons.
Diuani, an Arab-Israeli, told Ynet the settlement issue does not concern her. “I separate studies from politics. I don’t think where I go to school will matter to anyone – only my grades and diploma will matter.”
Another Arab student, who chose to remain anonymous, said, “We did not come here because of the ideology; we came here to get an education, and we don’t want to link this to politics.”
Asad, 25, from the Druze village Hurfish, was recently discharged from the IDF after serving as an officer in a secret unit. He rents a room at the university’s dorms and is studying for a BA degree in civil engineering. “I didn’t take the psychometric exam, so the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) was out of the question. Beersheba is too far, and as a family man I wanted to stay close by,” said Asad, who is married with a daughter.
“Ariel is a large city that has existed for many years and will continue to exist without me. In this case, politics is pushed to the side,” he told Ynet.
Joana Moussa, a 20-year-old behavioral sciences student from Abu Snan, an Arab village in the Galilee region, said politics does play a role. “All of the students in Ariel fear the day will come when they’ll be told their diploma cannot be recognized because they studied in the territories. But as of today, our diploma is recognized everywhere.
“I am very pleased because the professors give us personal attention and there is no racism here. Perhaps in other places people would have commented on my name or ethnicity, but here I’m accepted for who I am,” she said.
Some three years ago Ariel College was recognized as a “university center,” a move that drew harsh criticism from leftist groups.
Some 150 American, UK theater and film actors, directors sign petition in support of Israeli artists’ boycott of Ariel culture center
News of the protest letter signed by Israeli theater actors refusing to perform in the new cultureal center in Ariel have made it to Hollywood and is now endorsed by American and British actors, directors and playwrights.
The petition, organized by the Jewish Voice For Peace organization, was signed by such American theater and film figures as Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, award-winning playwright Tony Kushner (“Angels in American”, “Munich”), actress Jennifer Tilley (“Bullets Over Broadway”), Mandy Patinkin (“Princess Bride”), acclaimed British actress Vanessa Redgrave and co-founder of the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv Theodore Bikel.
“On August 27th, dozens of Israeli actors, directors, and playwrights made the brave decision not to perform in Ariel, one of the largest of the West Bank settlements, which by all standards of international law are clearly illegal. As American actors, directors, critics and playwrights, we salute our Israeli counterparts for their courageous decision,” the statement read.
“Most of us are involved in daily compromises with wrongful acts,” the petition noted. “When a group of people suddenly have the clarity of mind to see that the next compromise looming up before them is an unbearable one, and when they somehow find the strength to refuse to cross that line – we can’t help but be overjoyed and inspired and grateful.”
“It’s thrilling to see that these Israeli theater artists have refused to allow their work to be used to normalize a cruel occupation which they know to be wrong, which violates international law and which is impeding the hope for a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike. They made a wonderful decision and they deserve the respect of people everywhere who dream of justice. We stand with them.”
‘Many signatories are Jewish’
Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace Rebecca Vilkomerson said: “The response of American and UK artists to the actions of their courageous Israeli counterparts is just phenomenal. It is especially notable that so many of the signatories are Jewish with long-standing connections to Israel.”
She further added, “We hope that the strong show of solidarity will help spark a new conversation in both countries, one that acknowledges that the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are illegal by every measure of international law, contribute to the daily violation of human rights of Palestinians, and are a major obstacle to a just peace in the region.”